Ellen DeGeneres is an American comedian, actress, author, producer, writer, and syndicated television talk show host. She was born in Louisiana in 1958. She moved to Atlanta when her mother divorced. While she attended college for one semester at the University of New Orleans, she eventually took various mundane jobs that ultimately became the real-life stories on which she based her hilarious stand-up comedy.
DeGeneres draws on the comedic genius of Steve Martin, Lucille Ball, Bob Newhart, and Woody Allen. She cited these great comedians as her primary influences when she created her now legendary stand-up routines. Eventually, Ellen became the host of Clyde’s – a comedy club in New Orleans. This led to a national tour, and in the mid-1980s, Ellen DeGeneres was honored and named the funniest person in America by the entertainment network - Showtime.
In 2015, President Obama awarded Ellen DeGeneres the Presidential Medal of Freedom, an incredible honor dedicated to the inspiration Ellen DeGeneres provides to millions – thanks to her TV show and significant and positive social media presence. Earning such an honor speaks to a brilliant and positively influential career and persona. As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton named Ellen DeGeneres as the US special envoy for global awareness of AIDS.
In 2020, Ellen DeGeneres was ranked as the 12th highest-paid entertainer by Forbes. Her generosity is well-documented and celebrated by more than 55 million followers on the Instagram platform.
Ellen DeGeneres’ Early, Film & Sitcom Years
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Ellen DeGeneres’s work included a part in the movie the Coneheads, among incident roles and bit parts. She was even a waitress at one point. Ellen DeGeneres began earning minor roles on TV as well. She started hitting the upper levels of the entertainment stratosphere after the debut of Ellen– a sitcom modeled after her successful standup routines.
In the late 1990s, Ellen DeGeneres, in a courageous decision for the time, revealed she was gay as a guest on Oprah’s show. Years later, in 2007, Ellen DeGeneres hosted the Academy Awards – becoming the first openly gay person to host this star-studded annual gala that is broadcast globally. Her performance at the Oscars overwhelmed the in-person and television audience alike. Ultimately, DeGeneres’ performance as host at the Oscars earned her an Emmy Award nomination.
Her next night as the host of the 2014 Academy Awards included the now famous ‘selfie moment’ with many Oscar celebrities – becoming one of the most tweeted pics ever.
The Ellen DeGeneres Talk Show
DeGeneres’s talk show debuted in 2004 to widespread critical and audience praise. Over the years, there have been about 4,000 guest celebrities – many of whom are top A-lists like George Clooney or Michele Obama.
Over the years, this blonde talk show host has been a part of many generous and charitable events and donations. Her giveaways to audience members have become the stuff of television legends. For example (and this is just the tip of the iceberg of Ellen’s charity), she donated tens of thousands in gift cards to the Redlands Fire Department – one of the many professional squads fighting California’s 2018 wildfires.
In addition, the show has given away nearly ½ billion dollars to various charities that include these types of causes, among others –
- Full-ride academic scholarships.
- Hurricane Support through the American Red Cross in the millions of dollars.
- Contributions to military families.
- Animal rights and animal protection legislation. In 2009, Ellen was named Woman of the Year by PETA.
In 2019, DeGeneres surprised her studio audience by giving one million dollars to be shared among audience members attending one taping. The day selected for this generous gesture included an audience honored for selfless acts of charity.
The End of an Era
In 2022, DeGeneres announced her 19th season would be her last as host of the popular daytime television talk show.
Ellen DeGeneres Charity & Causes
Ellen DeGeneres supports a wide variety of charities and organizations and has garnered several honors for her charitable efforts for people, animals, and the planet.
With incredible success across the entertainment world, Ellen has contributed generously to charity on a personal basis. Her philanthropy is quite impressive, having donated millions to –
- Fight hunger and food vulnerability.
- Fight cancer.
- End bullying, to name a few.
Other charitable ventures she has supported or launched include:
- Small Change Campaign – partnered with Ben Affleck, DeGeneres hopes to help hunger in the United States.
- Ellen for the Cure Campaign – this regularly ran on Ellen’s talk show during Brest Cancer Awareness Month (October) to benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure. It often includes donations and prizes to members of the audience.
- The Gentle Barn – a respite and home for abused animals.
- The Ellen Fund – this organization was founded as a gift by Portia De Rossi to support a science/education campus on a 12-acre farm in Rwanda for wild mountain gorillas. The Ellen Fund also seeks to inspire hope and make a difference by uplifting women, conservationists, and anyone looking to make a positive change.
- #BeKindtoElephants Campaign – with all proceeds given to the D. Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
- Ellen DeGeneres Wildlife Fund – which is a member program of the Digit Fund, a line of footwear and t-shirts to help gorillas.
- Adopt a Turkey – which encouraged changing the Thanksgiving tradition of adopting a turkey rather than killing one.
Ellen DeGeneres offers impressive support to the education community as well. In addition to generous financial support, DeGeneres offers her comedic talent in the name of the importance of education.
She made a surprise appearance at her home state’s Tulane University’s 2006 commencement ceremony. After Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush left the podium, Ellen DeGeneres appeared in a bathrobe and slippers with a quip about how she was told everyone attending would be wearing robes.
Ellen DeGeneres supports these charitable causes:
- ONE Campaign
- Artists Against Racism
- Best Friends Animal Society
- Boys & Girls Clubs of America
- ACLU of Southern California
- American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign
- Clothes Off Our Back
- David Lynch Foundation
- FHI 360
- Habitat For Humanity
- Halo Pet Foundation
- Heifer International
- Declare Yourself
- Elton John AIDS Foundation
- Andre Agassi Foundation for Education
- Love Our Children USA
- Peace First
- Petco Foundation
- Project Cuddle
- PROJECT ZAMBIA
- Save The Music Foundation
- Stand Up To Cancer
- Stephen J Wampler Foundation
- St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
- STOMP Out Bullying
- Straight But Not Narrow
- The Humane Society
- The Trevor Project
- Children's Health Fund
- Entertainment Industry Foundation
- Everyone Matters
- Farm Sanctuary
- Feeding America
- It Gets Better Project
- Los Angeles LGBT Center
- Make It Right
- Malaria No More
- Musicians on Call
- Music RisingNeurofibromatosis, Inc.
These many organizations are quite grateful for Ellen DeGeneres charity and support.
You can also read:
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee